Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Week of Rain Destroys a Squash Garden

This part of Texas is usually hot and dry during the summer.   This past week we had a very unusual event:  7 days of rain.    Every day we had some rain.   Some days we had over 2 inches and other days we had an eighth or a quarter inch of rain.  The total rain for the week was a bit over 6 inches.   You might think this is a good thing.  Not so – we had rain every day.   Along with high humidity, we had very little sunshine to dry the leaves off.   I went out to the garden a few times during the week and sprayed Neem oil on the leaves, but the rain every day just washed it off.

Before the week of rain, I had been battling powdery mildew, but the rain spread the stuff all over the garden.  I can clearly see where the white stuff dripped to leaves below, to infect them.  I can also see where it splashed around, spreading it thru rain drops.

This 8 Ball zucchini is totally infected with powdery mildew.    This is rather unusual – these hybrid zucchini plants had showed themselves to be somewhat resistant to powdery mildew.
powdery mildew zucchini

Here are some more zucchini plants that have a heavy, thick coating of powdery mildew.  See how terribly thick those white spots are.
powdery mildew after rain

This squash plant is fatally infected with powdery mildew.
powdery mildew

This yellow summer squash plant is just about dead from powdery mildew.   All of the older leaves are fatally infected.  There just isn’t enough plant left to support the growing tip – this plant will probably die before it produces another squash.    It was a full, happy plant until the week of rain spread the mildew and killed the plant.
squash almost killed by powdery mildew

Another picture of powdery mildew all over zucchini leaves.  The stuff is ALL OVER!
powdery mildew on zucchini

Look at these leaves –  the powdery mildew is on every plant in the garden.   It must have been spread by the rain that splattered all over the garden for a week.
powdery mildew closeup

These cucumber leaves seem fairly resistant to the powdery mildew blight, but the older leaves have some strange tan spots and holes in them.   I don’t know what caused those holes.
cukes with holes in leaves

The older leaves on these zucchini plants are totally destroyed and it has spread to the new growth.  I sprayed the entire garden with Neem oil today, but most plants are t00 far gone to survive much longer.   The powdery mildew is just too rampant.

All squash plants are affected, even the once resistant hybrid zucchini and Waltham butternuts.  I have found out that Crenshaw squash are super- sensitive to powdery mildew.
grey zucchini with powdery mildew

This pic was taken before the rain week.  It shows what powdery mildew does to leaves.  A mild case of powdery mildew causes the leaves to become dry and stiff.   They then dry out, develop holes and then die.  This is the result of a mild case of mildew – after the week of rain I have a massive infection of powdery mildew.  I can see it killing entire groups of leaves at a time.
old leaves killed by powdery mildew

I usually burn my old squash plants at seasons end – I do not put them in the compost if they show any sign of disease of bug infection.  I’m not sure if powdery mildew will preclude my composting these plants.  I really do need green plants in the compost, but I don’t want to risk feeding the compost pile an organism that may survive composting and spread next season.  I’ll have to do some research on this matter.

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Stunted Squash Plants

This spring, with the new garden not being finished on time, I planted my crops at least a month late, and some plants, like this zucchini, were planted weeks later.    The zucchini that I planted ‘only’ a month late grew into very large, healthy plants.  This even later zuch, along with all the yellow summer squash that I planted even later, never fully grew.   Interestingly, all of these super-late squash were stunted.   This 8 Ball did grow big enough to produce at least one fruit.  Look at all of those male bloom on this plant.

yellow edges on squash leaves

I am totally fascinated with these late plantings being stunted.  They just never grew big enough before the extreme heat and drought arrived.   This is a hybrid 8 Ball zucchini from Twilley seeds, usually a very strong and large plant.

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Not a Wonderful Tomato Harvest

This spring, since we moved, we were not able to prepare a good tomato bed. (As noted in earlier posts).   This pic is about how I freeze tomatoes.  On the plate are boiled tomatoes that are about to be skinned.  The fruit then goes into the blender.  To freeze tomatoes, I puree them first since this is how we use them – pureed.  I measure out 16 to 20 ounces in the measuring cup and then put the fruit into zip-lock sandwich bags and then into the freezer when they cool off.  (Since they get banged about in the freezer, when thawing a baggie of puree, always put it in a bowl to catch the tomato water that drains out of a damaged bag during the thaw).

The meager harvest was not enough to fire up the canning kettle.   (I usually can tomatoes in a hot water bath canner.)  I think that we have passed the height of our tomato harvest.  We eat all we can and preserve the rest.   This year, freezing is the method.
freezing tomatoes

So far this year, I have only frozen a little over a dozen bags, mostly 20 ounces, so that makes a few more pints of volume.    We are already planning our tomato bed for next spring.

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Marigolds – Always Fun

This is an exceptionally nice marigold plant. The flower is about 18 to 20 inches tall and rather narrow and growing in a very nice 12″ clay pot.   It is quite different from the sprawling marigolds that I usually grow.   I just save seeds from year to year and they all get mixed up genetically. I plan to save the seeds from this plant. This bloom is at the very top of the plant and, as you can see, there are blooms around the top of the plant.  I can only hope that insects pollinate these flowers.  I started dozens of marigolds this spring, but very few of them germinated.  I don’t know whether the seeds were not viable or perhaps since I still don’t have my greenhouse, maybe my growing conditions weren’t satisfactory.  In the spring, I usually start 6 or more dozen marigold plants.  They are usually very easy to start.  Little 1″ marigold babies are so cute – they already have their characteristic leaves.
marigold closeup


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Growing Stevia

I purchased one Stevia plant from Walmart this spring.   Last year I purchased a Stevia plant from Lowes and it grew poorly and had thin stems.  This plant has many stems growing from the first 3 main stems.  The stems are thick.  I am very pleased with how this plant has grown – especially since I am growing it in a 1 gallon pot that dries out every day.  I have let this plant get stressed and dry, but it is still growing very well.  Look at the clusters of small off-shoot branches that just keep popping out.  The main branches grew at about a 45 degree angle and all along the slanted main stems are small shoots growing out.  Look at that full cluster of shoots near the top center of this pic.

I plan to take some cuttings from these growing shoots this fall, root them and keep them in the house during the winter and see if I can keep them alive until next spring.

To harvest the plants this fall, I plan to take those cuttings and then pull the plants up and hang them upside down to dry the leaves.  I hope to then crumble those dried leaves and use them to sweeten drinks.

Look at the clusters on this 3rd original branch – it isn’t sending out long upward shoots like the other 2 main branches.  These look smaller and more clustered.   This is still a great improvement over last year’s Stevia plant growing attempts.
stevia branching out full

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Overview – From July 10

This is the middle walkway between the 2 long rows of raised beds.  The beds are 5 feet wide and 16 feet long – to accommodate the 16′ cattle panels.  I planned to plant climbing plants – mostly beans, squash and cucumbers – under the cattle panels on both sides of the bed and plant other things along the outer 2 feet of each long side.  I planted these squash so that they could grow down into the 4′ aisle between the beds.  In the very front, left you can see a long vine growing along the outside of the raised bed.  This is one of 4 Crenshaw winter squash that I grew.  These seem overly sensitive to powdery mildew and I don’t believe they will live long enough to produce a single fruit.   The winter squash growing on the cattle panel on the front left are several varieties including Seminole pumpkin.  These did very well last year.  On the bottom right side is the cattle panel where my cucumbers are growing.

At the top middle left of the pic is the raised cattle panel on which my Long Red Chinese Beans are growing.  They have really taken off  but have yet to start producing the 12″ red ‘green’ beans.  At the old place, I grew them up twine in a narrow bed in front of the carport.  That gave them at least 10′ – which still wasn’t enough room.  These cattle panels are no where high enough for the beans.  They are growing wildly, but when I try to tuck the growing ends in and out of the cattle panels, they easily snap.  Next year I will have to find some place better for them to grow.
overview july 10

I need to get the garden in on time next spring.

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Squash and Zucchini

Because of out move, the entire garden was put in a month late. This has resulted in several issues.  Some of the plants didn’t mature enough before the heat – and some plants are actually stunted.  I didn’t get enough production out of the plants before the heat and drought hit.  You can see the powdery mildew on these leaves.  This zucchini is a Grey Zucchini – an heirloom that is one of my favorite zucchinis.
grey zucchini closeup

This is an overview of a row of Patty Pan summer squash.  The plants are strong and large with plenty of  baby buds along the stems.  It is almost ready to produce.  This pic was taken 2 weeks ago and we have had a week of rain that has taken its toll on the vegetable garden by spreading powdery mildew.  These yellow squash are susceptible to the mildew.   I have yet to harvest a Patty Pan squash out of this garden.  The variegated squash leaves in front of the cattle panel are some hybrid butternut varieties planted to grow up the panels.

grey zucchini

This is a closeup of some of the yellow summer squash plants.  There are plenty of buds along the strong stems and a burst of baby leaves and buds at the growing tip.  Hope these plants live to produce what looks so promising on them.  You can see the powdery mildew splotches on surrounding leaves.

yellow crookneck squash

This is a Cocozella  heirloom zucchini, one of my 2 favorite heirloom zukes.  Notice the thick leaf mulch under the plants.

cocozella zucchini

Another closeup of a Cocozella heirloom zucchini.  The mature leaves show the ravishes of powdery mildew.

cocozella zucchini

A closeup of some hybrid zucchini plants.  You can see an Obsidian zuke on the plant in the front right side.  Overall, these were fairly strong plants that produced well – because the were planted before the rest of the zukes and squash.

obsidian zucchini

These are my first 2 Waltham Butternut winter squash.  The little one on on the left is no longer with us – it must have died and fallen off when I wasn’t looking.  Usually Walthams do better than this bunch has done – but they are also usually planted a month earlier than I planted these.  There are, though, many buds on these vines.  Overall, Walthams are somewhat resistant to powdery mildew, although I am seeing it on some Waltham Butternut leaves.  I planted seeds from several sources and am assuming that all Waltham Butternuts are open pollinated unless other wise stated, meaning that all of these Walthams should be very similar.

waltham butternut

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Basil – It’s Time To Make Pesto

I normally grow maybe 5 dozen basil plants so that we have plenty of basil to make pesto with. This year, however, with the move, I only have a few dozen plants and those plants haven’t done great.   This is a Globe Basil plant in a pot.  It has small leaves and does grow in a round globe shape.  This plant is going to seed.   I try to pinch the blooms to that the plant continues to bush out.  These Globe Basil plants just have too many blooms to get them all pinched.  Although the leaves are so small and thus more difficult to work with to make pesto, I plan to save the seeds to plant again.  With 2 types of basil growing, it will be interesting to see if they are true or if they grow into some hybrid looking basil.
globe basil

This plant is a ‘regular’ Basil – these are the seeds and basil that I grow year after year with the seeds that I save each year.  These plants are much easier to pinch the buds on – and these basil plants do fill out.
basil in pot

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Figs Are Grown Thru Propogation of Rootings

This is a 3rd year fig. It is planted in the ground and is growing great.

first year figs

These 2 two figs are also 2nd year figs.  All 4 of my 2nd year figs have long trunks with leaves at the top.  All 4 of my 2nd year figs are in yellow-green pots.  Some of these figs are trying to sprout leaves at the bottom.
2nd year fig

The 2 tall fig trees on the left – they are in the yellow-green pots, have long trunks with bushy leaves at top.  I picked most of the figs off of these 2nd year fig trees – I want all of the plant’s energy going into growing into a healthy, well rooted tree.  The 2nd year fig on the right has a few little leaves popping out at the base.   The two little figs on the right are first year figs.
first and 2nd year figs

I am so pleased with these 2 fig trees – they are first year figs:  I took the cuttings last fall and they sprouted roots this spring.  They are so full and healthy.  I pulled off the few figs that started to grow on them – I want all of the plant’s energy going into growing into wonderful trees.  I don’t have my greenhouse moved over here yet, otherwise these little gems would be sheltered in the greenhouse.
first year figs closeup

I might try to root some cuttings off of a few of our 3rd year figs this fall – don’t know yet.  Once I got the hang of rooting fig cuttings, it has become addictive.  My cuttings so far have been from 20 year old fig trees from our old place.  Those old figs were dying because of root nematodes.

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